Infrared Sauna and Exercise: What happens when you combine the two

There are countless studies on the benefits of exercise and regular sauna sessions, so how can you maximize the benefits of both? Combining exercise and sauna may be especially therapeutic for those with cardio-respiratory diseases, diabetes or insulin resistance concerns, mental health issues and those that need help with weight management. It can also speed up muscle recovery and healing for individuals completing rehabilitation programs or professional/ameteur athletes.

Exercise and Saunas; What are the Benefits?
Aerobic exercise, or ‘cardio’, encourages our bodies to adapt in incredible ways. The main adaptations allow your stronger heart to pump more blood around the body to your muscles and lungs. Your lungs will be better able to absorb oxygen, and your muscles will be better able to use that oxygen to contract. The body will also be better at clearing lactic acid, meaning your muscles are less fatigable. Increased muscle strength will help you move faster and lift heavier. Cardio also encourages your body to remove cholesterol, burn fat around your organs and under the skin, release hormones that help improve mood and increase your metabolism overall.

Saunas have similar benefits, increasing heart rate and breathing rate mimics a cardio workout. The heat also aids muscle recovery by encouraging blood flow to the skin and muscles. Prolonged, increased blood flow helps the body clear lactic acid, reducing post workout soreness. That extra oxygen and nutrients bought by the blood flow can also help the muscles build and repair more efficiently. To read more about the benefits of saunas, click here.

How to put the Exercise-Sauna Routine into Practise:
Hydrate BEFORE your workout and sauna session. The average person sweats on average 0.5L per hour in a sauna. Make sure you’re sipping water leading up to exercise, and drink 400-800 ml of water whilst in the sauna. For maximal hydration, its recommended to have 400-1100mg of salt and 60-80g simple sugars.
Complete your usual exercise routine. If you’re hoping to lose weight, increase the intensity and duration of cardio.
Start your sauna session. Begin with 10 minute sessions at 45-50 degrees. To help your body adjust to the heat increase the length by 3-5 minutes each session. Be aware of dehydration symptoms such as dizziness, headaches and fatigue.

Summary
Regular exercise and sauna bathing can improve cardio-respiratory function, help weight loss, improve muscle strength and recovery.
Hydrate well before, during and after an exercise-sauna routine.
Complete your usual workout, or a more high intensity interval training session, prior to the sauna to get maximal benefits.
Build up to 20-30 minute sauna sessions

References
Haney, D., Owen, A., Fargo, J., Harrison, S., Chevalier, M., Buchanan, C. and Dalleck, L. (2019). Health-Related Benefits of Exercise Training with a Sauna Suit: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. International Journal of Research in Exercise Physiology, 13(1), pp.21-38.

Podstawski, R., Boraczyński, T., Boraczyński, M., Choszcz, D., Mańkowski, S. and Markowski, P. (2014). Sauna-Induced Body Mass Loss in Young Sedentary Women and Men. The Scientific World Journal, 2014, pp.1-7.

Podstawski, R., Borysławski, K., Clark, C., Choszcz, D., Finn, K. and Gronek, P. (2019). Correlations between Repeated Use of Dry Sauna for 4 x 10 Minutes, Physiological Parameters, Anthropometric Features, and Body Composition in Young Sedentary and Overweight Men: Health Implications. BioMed Research International, 2019, pp.1-13.

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We are physiotherapists located in Kilsyth and Knoxfield – helping you be better by restoring, improving & enhancing your optimal movement!

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